Cape Town - Saturday’s Super Rugby derby between the Stormers and Sharks features an exciting midfield battle between Springboks Damian de Allende and Frans Steyn.
Steyn is back from his club commitments in Japan and Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold has wasted no time in handing him the No 12 jersey for the clash at Newlands.
It promises to be an enthralling battle between two big players not shy of making contact and intent on attacking the gain-line with sheer ferocity.
De Allende has been in red-hot form for Stormers in their first three games of the season. His barn-storming runs have often got them on the front foot and he has played a big part in their unbeaten run to date. He already boasts two man-of-the-match accolades - in the Stormers’ away wins over the Bulls and Lions.
De Allende sits joint-fourth on the list for most defenders beaten in the competition to date. His 10 tackle busts is four behind exciting Blues back Charles Piutau.
De Allende’s physical and direct style of play will most definitely be tested by Steyn on Saturday.
There could also be a nice contrast in styles though as Gold noted this week that Steyn returned from Japan less bulkier than in previous seasons.
“Half of Frans has come back from Japan,” Gold told local media. “I’m not sure we’re going to use him as a battering ram. But his play-making ability is exceptional, we want to try and have an opportunity where we can play a brand of rugby where we have two first receivers, Frans has played 10 as well and that makes a big difference.”
Whether Steyn plays in a more expansive manner alongside JP Pietersen in midfield remains to be seen, but his one-on-one battle with De Allende is certainly an eagerly awaited duel.
Against a player of Steyn’s calibre, De Allende would also be keen to impress Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
The former Milnerton High School pupil played three Tests last season, but a knee injury hampered what could have been a stellar start to an international career.
Steyn is still out in the Bok wilderness after a contractual dispute last season, so he too, will be eager to show just what the Boks have been missing of late.
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Newlands is scheduled for 19:10.
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones
15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3. Matt Stevens, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Marco Wentzel, 20. Renaldo Bothma, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Andre Esterhuizen, 23. Jack Wilson